Video shows Fresno officer killing man holding fake gun. Police were there on mom’s 911 call

·3 min read

Fresno police on Friday released body-worn camera footage from a May 19 incident during which an officer shot a man to death.

The footage also included audio from a 911 call from 11:17 a.m. that day that police said features a woman saying her son was at a home near Crystal Avenue and Fountain Way against the requirements of a restraining order.

Her 27-year-old son, Austin Flores, would later be shot to death by an officer. Police said Flores was holding a replica gun and did not comply with officers telling him to drop it.

The woman told police she believed her son was drunk or high, police said.

The audio from the 911 calls shows the woman told police the gun was fake, and then later said she wasn’t sure.

Video shows officers arrive to find Flores in the backseat of a car parked behind an open gate on the side of the house. He stepped out of the car and officers began to yell commands.

An officer standing in the breezeway of the house near the backyard fired about 10 rounds, video shows.

Police say Flores died later at a hospital.

A slowed-down portion of the video shows Flores running through the backyard and pointing the replica gun at the officer who fired.

Police have not identified the officer.

The replica gun was chrome and gold with a black handle, according to a photo police provided.

Police said Flores had outstanding warrants for illegally possessing a gun and for resisting arrest.

Chief Paco Balderrama said officers put themselves in harm’s way.

“Sometimes, they are faced with tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situations, with only a fraction of a second to react,” he said in a news release. “Our officers will continue their commitment to protect the safety of all community members, and I continue my commitment to conduct thorough and factual investigations when critical incidents like this one occur. ”

Criticism of use of force

City leaders and the Fresno Police Department need to change how they respond to calls that so often involve people in distress or suffering from mental or other illnesses, according to Sandra Celedon, chief executive officer for Fresno Building Healthy Communities and the vice chairperson of the Fresno Commission on Police Reform.

She said police too often use people “behaving erratically” as part their explanation for use of force, saying police are ill-equipped to respond to calls that involve mental illness.

That’s why mental health experts should be involved in deescalating potentially deadly situations, she said.

“Mr. Flores did not deserve to die at the hands of the police. He deserved treatment,” she said in a statement. “We cannot create safety with more violence, and we need to invest in the people and programs that can provide the support our community needs — we need real safety for everyone.”

Third fatal shooting in 2022

It was the third fatal shooting by a Fresno police officer in 2022.

In January, officers killed 26-year-old Edgar Mendoza on the lawn of the historic Meux Home downtown after he charged police with a hammer, according to police.

In March, Joseph Lee Roy, 24, was shot and killed after police say he attacked a detective in his office at the Fresno Police Department Headquarters.

The state Department of Justice in May said it will review the latest Fresno fatal officer-involved shooting. The DOJ said its Shooting Investigation Team deployed to the Fresno scene after it was notified by Fresno police.

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